A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports sheds light on why the gargantuan Tyrannosaurus rex was such a fearsome predator. Its jaws could clamp down on prey with an 8000-pound (3,630-kilogram) force — equal to the weight of several small cars.
A T. rex could pulverize bone like a “.45-caliber bullet with a mushroom head,” says co-author Gregory M. Erickson, curator at Florida State University’s Biological Science Museum, in a report by The Washington Post.
Using measurements based on living alligators, crocodiles, and birds, Erickson and co-author Paul Gignac, a professor of biological science and vertebrate paleontology at Oklahoma State University, created what they say is first computer model to look at the musculature of a T. rex jaw. They also calculated the amount of force the dinosaur’s seven-inch (18-centimeter) conical teeth would exert on bones — an impressive 431,000 pounds per square inch (30,300 kilograms per square centimeter).
“It was this bone-crunching acumen that helped T. rex to more fully exploit the carcasses of large horned dinosaurs and duck-billed hadrosaurids whose bones, rich in mineral salts and marrow, were unavailable to smaller, less equipped carnivorous dinosaurs,” explained Gignac, as reported by Forbes.
The king of dinosaurs — which weighed about seven tons, grew 20 feet tall, and was 43 feet long — had the most powerful bite of any creature studied, say the authors.
“T. rex could pretty much bite through whatever it wanted,” says Erickson, according to Reuters, “as long as it was made of flesh and bone.”